Matt Moylan rates as one of the best players in the National Rugby League competition after a stellar 2016 season where he represented both state and country.
The last fortnight hasn’t been his best off-field after breaching team protocol after a night out in Melbourne following their loss to the Storm.
At no stage has there been any suggestion that he, Peta Hiku and Waqa Blake misbehaved. However Anthony Griffin has a tough stance on discipline at the club. Something that other clubs could follow in light of a spate of off-field incidents during the off-season.
Some media outlets carried a story on Tuesday saying Matt Moylan had given up the captaincy in order to concentrate on his form.
However it was later clarified by News Limited:
“There was confusion on Tuesday when the Panthers lodged their official team with the NRL without a captain for the must-win game against the Sharks”
Moylan excelled as a first year captain at Penrith in 2016 with fourteen wins and seven losses. He hit career high form at the back-end of the season with an outstanding performance in the Panthers 28-12 victory over Canterbury at Allianz Stadium.
It was in a year of change at the club where coach Ivan Cleary was moved on and Trent Merrin joined the club as a marquee signing from St George-Illawarra.
Moylan despite having fifty games to his name in the top grade was at the time a perfect fit for captain being a local junior in a young side undergoing massive change with Jamie Soward, James Segeyaro, Jamal Idris and Elijah Taylor being released.
2017 hasn’t been so smooth for the skipper as the Panthers results have been below expectations in winning two of six matches.
Opposition teams have targeted Moylan in two aspects of his game: crowding him in attack and limiting his opportunities and; frustrate the captain to get the competitive edge.
And it’s shown as it hasn’t been a cool, calm and collected Moylan evident on the night the Panthers were beaten by Sydney Roosters controversially 14-12 at Pepper Stadium.
With the media speculation and ban for breach of team protocol the question worthwhile asking is whether Matt Moylan right now is ‘best fit’ to captain the club?
Maybe in the short term it’s Peter Wallace. With 218 NRL games under his belt, Wallace has completed a stunning transition from the halves to hooker. He shows the maturity and composure needed as a captain being an elder statesman in the squad.
Another option could be Trent Merrin. Despite appearing to be down on form at the start of this season, Merrin is a popular with teammates and could motivate some of the younger players both on and off the field.
While Bryce Cartwright has been touted as a future Panthers captain long-term, it could be Dubbo product Isaah Yeo who becomes the club leader.
Yeo has shown a high level of maturity over the last twelve months and this has been reflected in his on-field performances in being one of the best each week for the Panthers.
Hopefully a fortnight of frustration is behind Matt Moylan with his focus now well and truly on having a blinder to take down defending premiers Cronulla this Sunday at Pepper Stadium.